Design footpaths that pedestrians and PMD users can share

Soon, users of e-scooters and other personal mobility devices (PMDs) will legally share footpaths with pedestrians ("Bicycles, e-scooters may be allowed on footpaths by year end"; April 13).

To address the issue of accidents and right of way, there have been suggestions to have separate paths for PMD users and pedestrians, together with strict enforcement against errant users. These measures may be difficult to implement in Singapore owing to space and manpower constraints.

It is possible to maximise the use of the limited space by integrating both the paths. This can be done by creating two separate levels to the same path to be constructed.

The raised section, say 4cm high and 40cm wide, is for pedestrians only, while the lower (or normal) and wider section is for all PMD users.

With the difference in path level, PMD users cannot freely encroach into the space reserved for pedestrians. The risk of accidental collisions is thus greatly reduced.

The 40cm width suggested for the raised section is to physically discourage PMD users from misusing this narrow section, yet still be comfortable for pedestrians.

The narrow width also discourages texting "smartphone zombies" from continuing such a risky habit while walking.

This two-level concept can also be applied to most existing pedestrian footpaths. This will allow residents in older HDB estates to reap the same benefits enjoyed by those living in newer estates.

Transport infrastructure should be designed such that the end-product can be self-policing. This will minimise the need to expend limited manpower to constantly enforce the observance of traffic rules.

Steven Lo Chock Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Design footpaths that pedestrians and PMD users can share'. Print Edition | Subscribe